Cinema/Chicago News

Tom Burrell and Jay Levine to be Honored at the 51st Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards

Published: April 23, 2015  |  Filed under: Festival News

CHICAGO, April 7, 2015 – Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival are pleased to announce that Chicago advertising legend Tom Burrell and investigative journalist Jay Levine will be honored at the 51st Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards Ceremony April 22, 2015 at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile (633 N. St. Clair St). Burrell and Levine join post-production house Whitehouse as distinguished honorees for the event, which will be hosted by WGN’s Dan Ponce and ABC/WINDY CITY LIVE’s Ji Suk Yi.


A longtime dynamo in the advertising industry, Tom Burrell will receive the prestigious Chicago Legend in Advertising Award for his illustrious career. “During his storied career, Mr. Burrell transformed the advertising industry,” said Cinema/Chicago Television Coordinator Sam Flancher. “Burrell Communications has long been at the forefront of advertising innovation, and its commitment to challenging the status quo to create real, relatable depictions of African-American life on screen has left an indelible imprint on media today.” Ruth L. Ratny, publisher and editor or has previously received the award.


CBS 2 Chicago’s standout broadcaster Jay Levine will receive the Excellence in Investigative Journalism Award. “Jay has long held an important place in Chicago’s broadcasting community, breaking stories that have shaped the lives of every Chicagoan,” said Chicago International Film Festival Founder and Artistic Director Michael Kutza. “He also has taken Chicago viewers to the front lines of some of the most important events of the last 25 years, from the Gulf War to the Louisiana coast during Hurricane Katrina. We’ve always relied on his exceptional reporting to relay the stories that matter most.”


For more than five decades, the Chicago International Television Awards have honored the inspiring programs, beloved personalities and powerful creatives that have shaped unforgettable moments of television. From innovative distribution approaches to groundbreaking storytelling, the Television Awards continue to recognize the talented minds of this ever-evolving medium. Past honorees include Chicago T.V. journalist Bill Kurtis and Chicago T.V. anchor Walter Jacobson.


A reception precedes the Ceremony, where top awards will be presented to the competition winners and tributes will be paid to distinguished individuals and companies who have made an indelible contribution to the television industry.


Tickets to the event ($75/Individual Ticket, $1,000 VIP Table of 10 with premium seating) are available at Please direct table requests to Managing Director Vivian Teng at


The 51st Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards is presented by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival. Led by Major Sponsors, Optimus, Sound Investment AV, and WTTW11; Evening Partners include Stella Artois, Effen Vodka, Screen Magazine, and ReelChicago.





Tom Burrell established Burrell Communications in 1971 and led the company through 2004. Burrell, known as leading marketing communications firm, is noted for its expertise in reaching African American and urban youth markets. By recognizing the unique qualities of the American-American consumer market, Burrell spearheaded some of the most memorable campaigns in advertising history. A reel of Burrell’s advertisements for Coca-Cola is currently archived at the Library of Congress for its historical significance.


Burrell has garnered numerous prestigious awards and accolades, including Advertising Person of the Year, the coveted Albert Lasker award for Lifetime Achievement in Advertising, DuSable Museum’s HistoryMaker Award, and the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism. Advertising Age named Burrell one of “50 Who Made A Difference” in its special issue “50 Years of TV Advertising.” The magazine also designated him among the “Top 100 Advertising People” who have shaped the course of the advertising industry in their special issue “The Advertising Century.”





Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined CBS 2 Chicago as weekend anchor and reporter in 1990 before being named chief correspondent in 1991. He later anchored the station’s early morning news with his wife, Mary Ann Childers, before returning to his role as chief correspondent.


In 1991, he became the first Chicago reporter to broadcast live from Saudi Arabia, the day before the Gulf War began. He was the only Chicago TV reporter in Saudi Arabia from the time the first shots were fired until after the cease-fire was signed. During that two-month period, Levine filed 260 live reports for CBS 2 Chicago and CBS stations around the country.


In 2003, he was the only Chicago television reporter embedded with U.S. troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom, covering the 101st Airborne, and its Chicago-area soldiers from the deserts of Kuwait to Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad. He has traveled the globe covering politics, international affairs and uncovering scandals. Levine’s reports range from interviewing the Pope, to dodging bullets in Beirut, to chasing drug runners in the Andes. In 1996, his coverage of Cardinal Bernardin’s death was widely acclaimed by both his peers and the public. He covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita extensively and their aftermath along the Gulf Coast.




When the Chicago International Film Festival was founded 51 years ago by Artistic Director Michael Kutza, advertising agency heads Leo Burnett, Fairfax Cone, and Dick Needham suggested that, with budgets and craftsmanship equal to the feature films being screened, the Festival should showcase the art of the television commercial. Five decades later, this simple idea has evolved into an international celebration of the best in television, and encompasses television commercials, productions, series, and the innovative realm of online television programming. Since 2003, the top winners of each year’s competition have been feted at an Awards Ceremony in the spring, along with the presentation of Commitment to Excellence Awards to leaders and visionaries in the television medium. The event has honored notable commercial directors Joe Pytka, Tony Kaye & James Gartner as well as Carol Mendelsohn, STORY, Jesse Spencer, Kelsey Grammer, Bill Kurtis, Carol Marin, FRONTLINE, Leo Burnett, ESPN Films, and Optimus, among others.




Cinema/Chicago is a not-for-profit cultural and education organization dedicated to encouraging better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image. The Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards is part of the year-round programs presented by Cinema/Chicago, which also include the Chicago International Film Festival, CineYouth Festival, Intercom Competition, International Summer Screenings Program, and Education Program.



Sam Flancher

Competitions Coordinator

30 E Adams St, Suite 800

Chicago, IL 60603

312.683.0121 x114

Share this page: